News & Politics

How to Work a Room at a Party or Event

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Our expert: Roxanne Roberts, a Washington Post reporter who regularly writes about the social doings of Washington’s elite.

“The biggest mistake people make is they talk too much and don’t listen enough. This is a town full of big egos, and everybody loves to talk about themselves. If you can stop looking to see who the next important person coming into the room is and focus on that person [you’re talking to] and ask them about themselves, you begin to create a friend. Most of us—no matter our title—are insecure and want attention.

“The harder you try to impress, the less likely you are to do it. There is a certain element of cool that comes from having the kind of confidence that says you don’t have to prove how brilliant you are. One of my all-time favorite quotes, often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, is ‘You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.’”

Read more advice, tips, and tricks from Washington natives in our Secrets of the City package.

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.